Monte B Cowboy
Nov 17, 2013 9:07am
Re: Confession: 40 years after my first show I realize they played everything except Bob Wills
That's a Very Good example! Asleep At The Wheel have been around a long time. Bob Wills is The King of Western Swing!
I'm standing my ground on The Cowboy issue, regardless. Didn't Jerry learn how to play music primarily on a banjo? Didn't Jerry play Cowboy tunes on pedal steel? What about bluegrass? Jerry played bluegrass with everyone at the Marin County Bluegrass Festival in 1974
I converted to Cowboy in 1973. My neighborhood produced some very good musicians. Al Di Meola
is one of them. We had numerous musicians and bands from my area that were very good. Among them, we had a clone GD band, a clone Hot Tuna band - with much better violin playing than Papa John Creach (screach), and a John Cipollina clone. I hung out with all of them, except for Di Meola, whom I did not know.Van Manakas
was John Cipollina. John Zias
was Jerry Garcia. Eric Levine
was a much, much better violin player than Papa John Creach. Eric and Van also played in the Stoney Creek
bluegrass band in late '73 and early '74.
At one point in 1973, we had Manakas doing Cipollina, and Zias doing Garcia, playing together in the same band - VERY remarkable! That band was named Hell's Half Acre, after this very bizarre spot nearby Casper, Wyoming
. Van was the biggest Cowboy in our bunch at this time, and he had this "thing" for Wyoming, big time! I was at every gig that Hell's Half Acre ever played.
Re: GD are Cowboys!
Is this a cultural issue, scene issue, and/or musical issue? Is it p-c anymore to digress into the Cowboy issue - beyond just "purely musical interests"? David Lemieux's comments about Europe '72
were very interesting. He hits a home run when he describes how you could really hear GD's country influence in 1972. But Lemieux doesn't "run the bases" because he doesn't go into the details.
If GD's Cowboy influence is purely about the music, then please explain "why" they were dressing, acting, playing around, and looking like Cowboys during the early years? WtF? Give me a fucking break! (lol) Jerry breaks a rib after falling off a horse at Mickey's ranch while the band was hired to play a band of horse-riding musicians in a film. Cowboy underpinnings do not get any more straight-forward than this, sorry gang.
By 1972, 1973, and 1974 the cowboy music influences (country rock, bluegrass, western swing) were hitting "the scene" in droves! At the 1973 shows I went to, I witnessed GD on stage wearing cowboy shirts and blue jeans most of the time. Today we have tons of images, film, and video tape documenting GD being cowboys. It wasn't just GD being cowboys back then. It was everywhere. Bunches of us wore western-wear clothing at the time. To honor our favorite bands and artists, we were wearing cowboy boots, jeans, and cowboy shirts. You couldn't easily buy western-wear clothing in the NJ-NYC metro area at this time. It was very hard to find. There was an Army-Navy Surplus store in Hackensack (Dawg's home town
) that had some cowboy western-wear, and that was it. I had to go there many times before I found a few good cowboy shirts and boots that I liked. Truck Stops sometimes had cowboy clothing, but I had to drive a long ways to find any good stuff.
How did I wind up becoming a cowboy-soundman for the best Kentucky bluegrass band in Louisville in the mid-1970s? I reserve the right to hold back my story, rather than blogging here. It's a hippie-freak-cowboy story I'm willing to tell Ken Burns
or David Lemieux. But I'll touch base on the Lazy River band story.
The Lazy River band was based in Louisville, KY in 1976. The original band members play on this tape: John Jump, Robert Pool, Vince Gill, Bill Millet, and Bob Briedenbach. Vince Gill and John Jump were the frontmen. Vince was the main lead vocalist. He played electric mandolin, fiddle, and accoustic & electric guitars. John Jump sang lead vocals, wrote original songs, and played guitars. Lazy River band's soul, energy, creativity, and charisma were built around this powerful duo. The diversity of Lazy River's songs depicts the many influences that the band had adopted as its own: bluegrass, newgrass, western swing, Hank Williams, country rock, Grateful Dead, and jazz... and a Hippie Soundman.
All the Lazy River band artists were formerly members of the Bluegrass Alliance band at the same time, with Lonnie Peerce. They all left this band together when they formed the Lazy River band in 1976. Similarly, Sam Bush and founding members of the Newgrass Revival band were also members of the Bluegrass Alliance band together in 1971, with Lonnie Peerce. Sam and the other artists all left the Alliance together when they formed the Newgrass Revival band. It shold be noted that Tony Rice and Dan Crary were former members of Bluegrass Alliance. We have a YouTube clip of Bluegrass Alliance with Tony Rice and Sam Bush shown as members of this band in 1971.
I was soundman for the Bluegrass Alliance in 1975 & 1976. Numerous band members and me were roommates together at Harry Bickel's place. It was a musical jamming house in Louisville. I also worked as a videotape operator at a TV station in Louisville. When the Lazy River band formed up, they asked me to quit my full-time job at the TV station to become their soundman full-time. That's when I became the Lazy River soundman full-time. Then I designed and built some custom-made wiring assemblies and several stage boxes for the PA system and the monitors. I invested my life savings and purchased a sound mixer and some PA amplifiers. I already had some studio quality Electro-Voice mics and a pair of Bose speaker arrays that the band used. Besides being a Hippie, I was also a very successful live music taper. My taping follies and sound system skills all began with me taping Grateful Dead shows in 1973. This is how the Lazy River sound system was born.
Almost immediately, Robert Pool quit his bassist job with Lazy River. He moved back to Austin. The band was putting together their promo kit for getting gigs. They made another appointment with their photographer to get their new bassist in their photo spread. The new bassist, John Bieser, was still in St. Louis. The band almost convinced me to pose with them in a new photo, even though I was just the soundman. After an argument about this, I smoked a bunch of dope, and then I ran off to my girlfriend's place. That left Lazy River no choice but to use their original photo. John Bieser plays bass on these tapes, but Robert Pool is shown in their photo.
A couple of months later Vince Gill and John Jump left Lazy River band at the same time. This was the beginning of the end of the band. It never really got going. We never had enough paying gigs to keep everyone interested. New band members Eric Weber, Frank Heyer, Pat O'Conner, and Bruce Cromer joined the band. Now the band had 8 members and a soundman. We have them recorded on my tapes playing bluegrass, swing and jazz music with violin and guitar virtuoso Mark O'Connor, at age 15, on one of their tapes. The gypsy mode was taking hold. A few months later it was over.
The point is, all these great Cowboy players had similar patterns of music-playing evolution: bluegrass > hip bluegrass > newgrass > swing > jazz. But not Jerry and The Grateful Dead.
Somewhere, somehow, GD skipped around the swing part. They never played any swing, correct? They advanced directly to jazzy stuff while they kept on playing their Cowboy tunes. No other "jazzy Cowboy band" ever did this that I am aware. Didn't all of Jerry's and GD's cowboy-sidemen and cowboy-cohorts play 'some swing music' first, before they played jazzier styles? All musicians and bands, except GD, go through the swing phase first, before advancing to their jazzy stuff. (Needs to be carefully fact-checked.) It only took me six years to explain this.
Jer is saying, "We've always been Cowboys, man."